A five-member team representing Mexico won three medals at the Latin American Astronomy and Astronautics Olympiad (OLAA 2017).
The week-long event was hosted in Chile, where the Mexican students faced off against teams from 11 Latin American countries, winning two gold medals and one silver, and two honorable mentions.
Team leader Valeria García Hernández from Sinaloa and Óscar Ernesto Angulo Flores from Sonora won the gold medals.
Geraldine Lomelí Ponce won a silver medal and sisters Adriana and Alejandra Hernández Vázquez from Puebla won honorable mentions.
For seven days the students had to solve theoretical problems on their own and in teams, and demonstrate their abilities in the observation and recognition of constellations and celestial objects.
This year, stargazing tests were carried out at an elevation of over 3,500 metres above sea level, in the Atacama desert, where conditions are optimal for astronomical observation.
There are several stations in the stargazing stage of the event, explained Eduardo Mendoza Torres of the National Institute of Astrophysics, Optics and Electronics, where a judge aims a laser pointer at star or a celestial body. The students then have 30 seconds to identify it and report its name.
At another station the test is inverted. The judge gives the students the name of a star or nebula, and they have 60 seconds to locate it using a telescope.
OLAA 2017 participants also had the opportunity to visit the Very Large Telescope (VLT), an array of four optical telescopes each with a primary mirror 8.2 metres across. The facility is located on the Paranal hill, in the Atacama desert, and is operated by the European Southern Observatory (ESO).
Source: El Universal (sp)